Katherine (Trina) McMahon

Position title: Professor of Bacteriology
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Pronouns: she/her

Email: trina.mcmahon@wisc.edu

Phone: Phone: (608) 890-2836
Lab Phone: (608) 890-2858

1550 Linden Drive, Room 5552
Madison, WI 53706

BS 1995 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MS 1997 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
PhD 2002 University of California at Berkeley

Research Overview

Microbes have extraordinarily diverse and sophisticated physiologies, communication strategies, and mechanisms of evolution. Scientists and engineers are only beginning to understand and exploit the metabolic potential of these organisms and their communities. The broad objective of my research program is to improve our capacity to predict and model microbial behavior, while searching for novel biologically mediated transformations that can be harnessed for engineering applications.

My students and I study the microbial ecology of both natural and engineered systems. We use molecular tools to investigate microbial community structure and function in lakes and activated sludge. Our work on freshwater lakes leverages the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research program, providing rich contextual data for our 20+ year time series of microbial data. The activated sludge systems are designed to achieve phosphorus and/or nitrogen removal from wastewater, which ultimately protects surface waters from eutrophication. We combine (biogeo)chemical measurements, ‘omics and post-‘omics data, and computational modeling to describe and understand these systems. The overarching goal is the construction of more predictive mechanistic and ecosystem-scale models to use for forecasting and in silico experimentation.


CEE 320: Environmental Engineering
Biocore 587: Biological Interactions
Microbiology 425: Environmental Microbiology


See the lab publications page
Google Scholar Profile